The LSAT is hard for everyone. Most LSAT students find some percentage of the practice questions they encounter to be pretty easy, solvable through college-level critical thinking alone. However, all LSAT students discover at some point that a significant portion of practice questions demand a level of acuity and analytical skill that transcends whatever they brought into their LSAT journey as a baseline. Things get hard. You get questions wrong.
In order to successfully navigate the LSAT, you first need to reframe your idea of failure. As an experienced LSAT tutor, I can, with reasonable accuracy, predict a student’s future improvement based on the way they respond when they get hard questions wrong. The students who end up being the most successful are the ones who can reframe their perspective on their wrong answers and see them as valuable information. Indeed, your wrong answers are by far your most valuable resource for making progress. Here are three steps you can take to make the most of this resource:
1.) Use your wrong answers as a study tool
Each wrong answer represents a misunderstanding in some essential skill. If you can reconstruct your process and identify the specific error, you can articulate a specific solution so that you do not make the error again. A tutor or study buddy can be particularly helpful in this process. The brain of an early LSAT student is full of blind spots and “errors-waiting-to-happen.” When you get an answer wrong, you are shining a light on a blind spot that you would never have seen otherwise.
2.) Create a wrong answer log
To find out if a question belongs in your wrong answer log, answer the following yes/no questions after completing and scoring your test:
- Did I get it wrong?
- Did I get it correct by sheer luck?
- Did I feel like anything less than a true master when I was doing it?
If you answered “yes” to any of those three questions, then put the question in your wrong answer log. For Reading Comprehension and Logic Games, you should put the whole passage or game, along with all of the accompanying questions, into your log.
3.) Using your wrong answer log
The way you use your log will differ based on the question type. You should revisit your Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning logs at least once a month, especially whenever you notice a jump in your practice test scores or, conversely, whenever you feel stuck. Simply go to an early part of your log and do the questions again. If you want, you can revisit these questions with a tutor or study buddy and practice explaining them as if you were the test designer. (NB: Focusing on your log in this way is a great thing to do in the week leading up to test day.)
For Logic Games, I advise students to work out of their log as their primary form of daily practice. When you are not taking practice tests, you should be re-doing games from your log. It may take 10 times or more before you are able to graduate a game from your log.
Keeping a meticulous record of your wrong answers guarantees you will get the most out of your time spent studying. But this practice has a deeper significance to the big picture as well. By never allowing an error to go unaddressed, you are teaching yourself that “just ok” isn’t good enough, that you are worthy of becoming great, and that the job at hand is important enough to deserve this level of attention. I promise you that if you take the LSAT as an opportunity to internalize these beliefs, your LSAT score won’t be the only thing that improves – your grades in law school will also benefit from this process, and the clients you serve as an attorney will implicitly thank you for your diligence and dedication for the rest of your life.